Focus: Human Rights and the ECHR

Geography, Politics and Culture in the United Nations Human Rights Committee


The United Nations Human Rights Committee, the monitoring treaty body of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, is one of the most important and highly regarded international human rights institutions. This article seeks to explore if geograph ical, political and cultural considerations influence the votes of committee members in decisions on individual communications. This article introduces an original dataset of the votes and backgrounds of committee members (CMs), hand coded by the author. The method used in the article is an empirical-quantitative analysis of the votes of CMs. The article finds that certain geopolitical voting patterns do exist in the votes of CMs. Evidence for cultural voting patterns is more limited. However, the article finds that usually voting patterns of individual CMs do not influence the final decision of the committee and that the decisions of the committee should be generally regarded as unbiased.